Oklahoma Church Loses FOIA Fight in Battle Over Superfund Site

A Bristow church has lost a Freedom of Information Fight as it pushes ahead with a lawsuit after being forced to relocate because the church was sitting on an EPA Superfund site.

In its lawsuit against BP, Marathon Oil corporation, Marathon Petroleum Corporation and Kinder Morgan, Inc. leaders of the Bristow First Assembly of God filed a FOIA request to obtain  more information from  the defendants. The suit was brought in September 2014 after the DEQ put 125 acres of land that had been home to the former Wilcox Oil Company’s refinery on the Superfund list.

But this month, Tulsa U.S. Magistrate Frank H. McCarthy ruled against the church which had sought documents and information about all management personnel for all onshore U.S. operations.

He called it “too broad and not proportional to the needs of this case.”

The judge noted that the church argued it was entitled to the information because the main issue in the lawsuit was a Superfund site. But Kinder Morgan maintained it had turned over all of its 36,000 documents relating to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.

The magistrate took  the church attorneys to task for generalizing their request for information.

“It appears Plaintiff expects the court to compel production of information without any explanation about why the information produced is insufficient or why production of additional information should be ordered,” wrote Judge McCarthy.

The case has been set to go to trial May 20, 2019.